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Attempt To Commit Suicide

There are infinite factors like depression, anxiety, traumatic stress which influence one's decision to end his life. According to the world health organizationís global report on suicide, every 40 seconds one person commits suicide in some corner of the world. Based on technicalities suicide is not an offense but attempt to commit suicide is punishable by law. According to section 309 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) whoever attempts to commit suicide or does any act towards the commission of such offense, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both.

The purpose behind this section is that the life of a person is not only important for him or his loved ones but also it is important for the state who is obligated to prevent persons from taking their own lives as it prevents them from taking the lives of others.

The most important characteristic of suicide is it is intentional self-immolation of life. Thus, if a person commits such acts in an intoxicated state or by mistake like an unintentional overdose of any medication or to get rid of pursuers, then he is not guilty under section 309.

In the year 1912, Bombay High Court came across a case, Emperor vs. Dwarka Poonja
To escape from the police, accused Dwarka Poonja jumped into a well. There is no evidence that he intended to commit suicide. He came out of the well of his own accord. Therefore he was not guilty under section 309 of IPC.

In the past few decades, there is an unfortunate increase in the number of suicide cases. Due to globalization, people have unusual expectations from their lives and standard of living which is leading towards increase depression and indirectly causing an increase in the suicide rate. India covers approximately 18% of the world population and maybe this is the reason why the World Health Organisation says that India has the highest suicide rate in South East Asia.

According to data based on the report of The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in India more than 1,00,000 people commit suicide every year due to various reasons. In the year 2018 total of 1,34,516 suicide cases were reported in India with an increase of 3.6% in comparison to the year 2017.

Stateís power to punish a person if he fails in the commission of suicide under section 309 is questioned by article 21 of the Indian Constitution which is right to life and liberty. The right to live with dignity also includes the right to die if one desires so.

In the case of, Maruti Shripati Dubal vs. State of Maharashtra
Respondent Maruti Dubal tried to kill himself by pouring kerosene on his body and by lighting matchstick because of physical injury caused by an accident and mental illness. After he failed in attempting suicide he challenged section 309 of IPC. High Court found that section 309 of IPC ultra vires article 14 and 21.

In my opinion section, 309 should be removed from the penal code. If the motive behind this section is prevention from suicide then there is no point in punishing those who attempted it. The person who tried to end his life should be given emotional support and psychiatric help instead of deterrent punishment. It is a horrible act to impose further suffering on a person who is already in so much pain that he thinks the commission of suicide is the last option he has. Inflicting punishment on such a person is unjust.

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